This morning as I look out across the river for the last time I need to get my thoughts in order and evaluate the last three months, put them into context both in terms of how much fun it’s been (or not) and how it will shape the rest of my life.
The journey has been a milestone. It is the first time in 22 years that Jaki and I have spent any time together. Whilst George was growing up I was working two jobs, some times three, Jaki worked full time and we renovated a derelict cottage and brought up a child. I don’t think we did a bad job of either.
So to suddenly be together 24 hours a day for three months was always going to be a challenge, one we hadn’t considered.
As it happened I look back with fondness and a sense of pride that we not only managed to survive but we had a bloody good laugh in the process. The Blog has helped because it has allowed me to see how silly we are, how vulnerable we are and in sending ourselves up we have managed to see these minor frustrations for what they are, just a part of living.
Today will be difficult. Packing to go home isn’t the best part of any holiday but Jaki is so practiced that she will do it in half an hour,
repacking dresses she hasn’t even worn, discarding the vitals like mozzie spray and shampoo that have accompanied us for weeks, in order to lighten the load. The new Glastonbury outfits will take pride of place of course but next time I come to Thailand I will come with a toothbrush, toothpaste and my wallet, everything else can be bought here for a fraction of the UK price, including a suitcase which I will fill full of clothes to take home.
Today though we have the added complication that Bangkok is shut down by protesters so our expected hour drive to the Airport may take considerably longer. The flight leaves at a couple of minutes past midnight and we have to be out of the room by 1400 hrs so we will have a long wait. Were hoping to find a nice lounge at the Airport and once we’ve checked the bags in, well just have to read and tweet and blog for 12 hours.
The homeward journey wouldn’t be so hard to bear if Thai Airways had allocated us the seats we requested ( at the back of a 747 there are 3 rows of seats with only two seats per row, these are great as you don’t have to tolerate an unknown passenger for 12 hours). But on this leg they have put us in row 47 g & h which is middle isle . I tried sending them e mails but they didn’t respond so I resorted to Twitter and they responded immediately asking me to send them all the details and they would try to help.
However, they wanted this information sent via a link they provided, but when you click on the link it takes you to a page that is written in Thai. There is a link in top right hand corner that says ‘English’ but if you click on that it takes you to their Facebook page and then it’s like a woman’s weekly with articles telling everyone how great Thai Airways is and what a great job they do.
Well not in customer service they don’t!
They then sent me a tweet saying the seats I wanted were still available and to phone this number, however when you do the tape is so bad and the English so poor it is almost impossible to understand but most frustratingly, however long you stay on the line, no one answers. I used up two lots of mobile phone credit waiting for a response. They are useless.
This sums up Thailand, it isn’t a very pretty country, the Beaches are no where near as attractive as Australia, but they have more life about them, they have character but they can be frustrating.In Australia there were miles of pristine sandy beaches but not a beach bar in sight. In Samui there a beach bar for every tourist.
On the taxi ride home a few nights ago we drove through some very questionable areas of Bangkok, where there was little or no street lighting, dirty and dilapidated buildings and it looked extremely intimidating. But in day light these places don’t look so daunting, they are vibrant and industrious the working areas of the city.
There is poverty here, make no mistake. Some people are living well below the bread line and it must be galling for them to see these rich tourist wandering around. Yet in the main they remain friendly and resilient, preferring to work for a few Baht rather than beg. If we tourist are to help in anyway it’s by getting our money out onto the streets and not hand it over to the multi nationals through the big hotel chains.
So this morning as I look back, I’m thinking about where I liked best and surprisingly my favourite place on the whole trip was…………… Brisbane . I just loved it. The apartment was great, the venue perfect, weather fab, but Brisbane for me had everything.
A close second was Merimbula, again in Australia and if we came back again I would book a few weeks here, it had everything we would want in a seaside resort, including live Kangaroo’s.
But for shear fun, Thailand takes some beating.
There is still a lot to see and I would want to visit Vietnam/Cambodia on any future trip.
Thailand is cheap, we have just finished spending the thousand pounds of Baht we brought with us, thats 25 days per thousand pounds. In OZ we spent our thousand pounds in a week. You could move to Thailand for the winter and what you save on running the house back home would allow a comfortable lifestyle here.
But travel can be wearing.
Living in Hotels isn’t for me, I much prefer self catering. It’s the shared spaces that get me down. Once you leave your Hotel room you are public property. You don’t have any personal space, you are constantly surrounded by people all jabbering away in languages that are alien. This becomes like a white noise, their jibber like static.
It’s meaningless but constant presence like tinnitus, always there but of no value to your daily life.
So when I get home, to the cold and the rain, i shall at least have my own space where I can think clearly. I can make a decent cup of Tea, oh how I miss English Tea. And a Curry. A proper English Curry with Gee floating on the top and nan bread and pickles.
These thing will I’m sure make it easier to return home without regret.
Oh, and the thought that we are off in the camper in a months time!